The winning team of Herbie Aikens and Matt Parziale
HAVERHILL, MA (May 10, 2017) - Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) watched his final regulation putt of the 2017 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship disappear into the 18th hole at Haverhill Country Club just after 1:00 p.m.
That putt – a birdie from 18 feet – placed him and partner Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) atop the leaderboard with a score of 16-under par 126. After winning this title one year ago with a score of 9-under par, most assumed that the perfectly-stroked putt had surely secured another victory and it was just a matter of time before they collected their newest hardware.
However, the team of Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright GC) and Chris Tarallo (Thorny Lea GC) had other plans in mind as they tapped in for birdie four hours later with the same score to force a playoff.
In the end, it wasn’t until 7:06 p.m. when Aikens and Parziale finally did celebrate a second-straight Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship victory after Parziale drained a 22-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole – the 170-yard, par 3 10th hole at Haverhill Country Club.
“I had a similar putt earlier with the same line but a little longer so I knew that it would turn hard,” said Parziale, who was the first of the four to putt. “All day I was not really getting them there, so I told myself that I was going to give it a little extra and it turned right in.”
Tarallo and Fitzpatrick both had looks for birdie, but neither could convert. Fitzpatrick was the last to putt and his attempt fell just inches short.
As Fitzpatrick’s head fell in frustration and nearly six hours after they finished their 36 holes of regulation, the realization that they had successfully repeated finally hit Aikens and Parziale.
“We definitely went through some emotions where we played so well yesterday and had so much fun, and then we came out today and we were just trying to find it and felt like we couldn’t get everything there,” said Aikens. “Over the course of the day we went from we think that we might have it to we’re in trouble to maybe being in a playoff. It definitely played with us a lot, and we had a lot of waiting to do.”
Despite facing cool and damp conditions on Tuesday as well as two very challenging courses in Haverhill CC and Renaissance – both located in Haverhill – the winning score of 16-under par marks the lowest score posted as this event since 2010 when Aikens teamed with Ryan Riley. It still stands as the lowest two-day score (relative to par) ever recorded at this event.
“There were two at 16 and one at 15 so three teams really played well this week,” said Parziale. “We were fortunate enough to get into the playoff and then had a chance to win here.”
Heading into the playoff, Aikens and Parziale were coming off a day-one score of 9-under par 63 where they capped off their Tuesday round with a 7-under par 29 on the back nine of Renaissance.
Momentum appeared to be on their side as they held a two-stroke advantage over the field, but an early bogey made on the Haverhill CC front nine opened the door for the field.
They made the turn at 1-under par.
“I felt like we hit it pretty well today” said Parziale. “We were just missing low or high, too hard and too slow and we didn’t hit it as close, even though we were hitting good shots” he added, describing the difference in scores carded between the two rounds of competition.”v
The back nine was the better tale of two halves for the duo, who carded five pars and four birdies – including the 18 footer on 18 by Aikens – to leave them with a sense of confidence as they waited for the afternoon groups to finish their rounds.
“We were just really frustrated today,” said Aikens. “We were making really good putts but we were struggling. These greens are wonderful and roll so beautifully, but they are so hard to read with all the hills and stuff. We were hitting good putts and they weren’t going in, so it was nice for one to finally go in.”
Despite carding one of the best two rounds of golf ever posted in the history of this event, Aikens and Parziale would have to wait for hours before learning their fate and having a chance to step back onto the course for a sudden-death playoff with Fitzpatrick and Tarallo.
But in the end, it was well worth the wait.
“It's an awesome feeling," said Parziale. "And the best thing is that we got to spend the whole day together."
ABOUT THE Massachusetts Four-Ball
**Cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Entries are open to two-person teams of
amateur golfers who hold membership in an
MGA member club and have an up-to-date
combined MGA/USGA GHIN Handicap Index
exceeding 6.0, or who have completed their
handicap certification as defined on the Entry
will be 36 holes at Four-Ball Stroke Play.
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